Slate Star Codex And A Link Which No Longer Works

Sad record of note:  One of the deeper blogs on the web, Slate Star Codex, has been voluntarily deleted by its author.

Why?  As a professional with professional responsibilities, and while already receiving some trouble for his labors, the noble NY Times threat and promise of an expose apparently helped the decision.

I was planning on linking to a post over there on an AI model running only on Wallace Stevens poems and now it’s gone.  Here’s to hoping it’s not permanent as in forever.

A shame:

I’ve been treating my blog as a salvage operation, carrying the poems, songs, ideas and traditions most important to me, and my small contribution to our Republic, forwards.

It’s not much, but it’s something.  I tend to seek out people who disagree (including Slate Star Codex) as often as those who might agree.

My biases and two cents: Twitter LI (loudest ignorance) and LAB (loud activist bias) seem to be proceeding apace. I certainly don’t trust people curating that network to maintain a platform for broader and freer thought, though the design works well for cheap, easy access to a network and constantly updating information across that network (emergencies, weather, a media wire, condensed packets of information etc.)

As for the NY Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, NPR etc, given how social change cool becomes radical chic, and radical chic ‘wokeness,’ and ‘wokeness’ narrow ideological conformity, it’s little surprise they’ve drifted as well.

From where I stand:  Tack your sail to normalizing the radical, and you tend to drift further away from tradition (joining individuals and groups who often ‘otherize’ anything religious, established and traditional and who unify their in-group by viewing such ideas as morally suspicious and potentially evil).  Utopias hang endlessly upon the horizon.  Making politics the thing-that-unites is placing a ridiculous weight upon political institutions.

The high liberal ideals and appeals to universal secular humanism don’t seem to be placating the desire for immediate and radical change, nor the meaning and purpose provided in some lives by ideological membership; the individual (S)elf increasingly left to make all of life’s meaning on his own.

Just as many universities, journals, publications and media outlets are going woke and failing to understand what scientists do (often displaying loyalty to ideological visions of (S)cience, Romanticized Nature and techo-bureaucratic utopianism), many publications also can’t resist the pressure of deploying gloriously useless art for the latest moral or political cause.

The problems of nature, human nature and legitimate authority are deeper than many realize.

As posted, someone’s going to be running our institutions and making rules out of a presumed universal and common sense set of assumptions:

Martin Gurri via Marginal Revolution: ‘Notes From A Nameless Conference:’

Gurri offered an interesting take on matters socio-cultural:

The dilemma is that this present is defined by a radical distrust of the institutions of industrial society, and of the elites that control them, and of their statements and descriptions of reality. The conference organizers got our predicament right. At every level of contemporary social and political life, we are stuck in the muck of a profound crisis of authority.

Hmmm…:

‘The senior people, largely white and male, seemed to believe that, in punishment for the sins of their fathers, trust had fractured along identity lines. Women today were thought to trust only women, for example. Muslims trusted Muslims, and no one else. Some archetypical essence of “woman” or “Muslim” made internal communications possible, and separated each group from the rest of the human race. It was, to be sure, a disaster of biblical proportions – the story of Babel told in the times of the tweet – and it left the men in charge desperate to put forward individuals of a different sex and skin coloration, to say the things they wanted to hear.

For younger elites, trust involves a sort of cosplay of historical conflicts. They put on elaborate rhetorical superhero costumes, and fight mock-epic battles with Nazis, fascists, “patriarchs,” slave-owners, George III, and the like. Because it’s only a game, no one gets seriously hurt – but nothing ever gets settled, either. Eventually, the young cosplayers must put away their costumes, take one last sip of Kombucha, and set off, seething with repressed virtue, to make money in the world as it really is.’

Roger Sandall from ‘Guardianship: The Utopia Of The New Class‘ finishes with:

One remembers Weber’s epitaph for the Protestant Ethic, as he contemplated a devitalised bourgeoisie spiritlessly tending the petrified mechanism their ancestors had raised. Adapted, without apology, it might also be used to depict that petrified Utopia of the New Ruling classes of the East.

Weber:

‘Rulers without honour, administrators without heart, priests without conviction, this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilisation never before achieved.’

Just thought I’d Throw This In There:

An interesting take from Slate Star Codex-‘The APA Meeting: A Photo-Essay:’

There’s a popular narrative that drug companies have stolen the soul of psychiatry. That they’ve reduced everything to chemical imbalances. The people who talk about this usually go on to argue that the true causes of mental illness are capitalism and racism. Have doctors forgotten that the real solution isn’t a pill, but structural change that challenges the systems of exploitation and domination that create suffering in the first place?

No. Nobody has forgotten that. Because the third thing you notice at the American Psychiatric Association meeting is that everyone is very, very woke.

This reminds me of a poem by Robert Pinsky, entitled ‘Essay On Psychiatrists’

V. Physical Comparison With Professors And Others

Pink and a bit soft-bodied, with a somewhat jazzy
Middle-class bathing suit and sandy sideburns, to me
He looked from the back like one more professor.

And from the front, too—the boyish, unformed carriage
Which foreigners always note in American men, combined
As in a professor with that liberal, quizzical,

Articulate gaze so unlike the more focused, more
Tolerant expression worn by a man of action (surgeon,
Salesman, athlete). On closer inspection was there,

Perhaps, a self-satisfied benign air, a too studied
Gentleness toward the child whose hand he held loosely?
Absurd to speculate; but then—the woman saw something

Maintaining a healthy skepticism:

Previous ‘elite’ links on this site, arriving at some yet predictable, unrealized truths: Via Marginal Revolution via American Affairs: ‘The Western Elite From A Chinese Perspective:’

Kenneth Anderson At Volokh: ‘The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, Or, Downward Mobility

Two Kinds Of Elite Cities in America?

There are people with careers writing about elites, becoming somewhat elite themselves, which haven’t fared too well

Who Wants To Blog Forever?

Ira Stoll, on blogging, after the Andrew Sullivan announcement:

‘I’ve seen the advantages and disadvantages of the old media world, and of the blog world, too. Blogging runs the risk of solipsism. The reporting resources and reputations of institutions are useful in getting phone calls returned, landing interviews, gaining access, and attention. But the issue isn’t whether, given a choice, we might return to the pre-blog world, or inhabit or invent, as Ben Smith imagines, a “post-blog” world. There is no turning back. Like it or not, we live in a blog media world.

There’s a pretty low barrier to entry and much lower cost to communication since blogs like this one have become so easily available. Since then, personal-style, individual voice and personality can trump institutional authority, and have clearly affected how the media does business (Sullivan ran his blog pretty much like a business).

I’ve found there’s only so much room for depth on a blog, and I think it’s best used as a window on the world, a way to stay current, and to share one’s interests, talents, and knowledge with others, while experiencing the interests, talents and knowledge of others.

Worth keeping in mind: What you write about, how, and why, can often reveal as much about you as it does the subject you’re writing about. So, best to know something about the subject at hand, have some humility and curiosity, and expect some feedback and criticism.

Who you imagine your audience to be, and why you’re writing in the first place still matters a great deal, as it always has whether for knowledge, understanding, money, influence, praise, communication, friendship, attention, problem solving, creative expression…too many to name.

You know some of your reasons.

See you out there.

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’

Full post here.

As mentioned on this site, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, knows how to focus on the customer, sit on cash reserves while combining the new technology and retail sales, and be patient.

He may already be in your living room, with a firm handle on the new digital supply chain.  Once there, the thinking goes, he may also be able to place a competitive, new-media Washington Post in front of you.  Perhaps he can aggregate it in such a way that you may be willing to pay, piecemeal and personalized, for the news, information and journalism you consume.

Of course, in purchasing the Washington Post, Bezos has also purchased the old supply chain:  The potentially valuable WaPo brand (influence), the potentially much less valuble linotype and newsroom culture of journalists and cultural gatekeepers battered in the surf of new media and technology.  If anyone has a chance to innovate and stay ahead of the curve of new technology, many hope, Bezos can (assuming he is so inclined).

Martin:

‘So here’s your new Washington Post: primarily delivered on Kindles, other Android platforms, and on Kindle apps on iPhone and iPad. Amazon applies your reading preferences and generates content with the selection optimized to what you like to read — my “front page” would have lots of politics, science, and foreign news; yours might have the sports pages and feature stories instead.’

I understand that news isn’t free, but I also can’t remember the last time I was willing to commit to a pay-wall without just surfing on, especially in the realm of politics, ideology, news and information.

Sometimes the writer is very knowledgeable, and the writing brilliant. Sometimes I think people really ‘nail it’ and I’m glad they’re there. Sometimes it clearly took years of development and dedication and I feel moved by a piece. But honestly, the wallet rarely comes out. If it isn’t business or something I need, and it isn’t family, friends, and fellow bloggers and connections who’ve exchanged time and ideas with me, I’m not inclined to pay for it.

I’m sure I’m not alone.

————————————

***It’s worth mentioning there is a difference between opinion and ideas and providing reliable information, quickly and accurately to those who can pay for it and are responsible for that information to others, but that’s a smaller market:  Financial institutions, traders, businesses with fiduciary and contractual obligations to clients, politicians and other institutions, for example.

Addition:   From an insider at the Post: ‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Related On This SiteBig Data And Filthy Lucre: Neil Irwin At WonkBlog-’Here’s What The Bloomberg Data Scandal Reveals About How The Media Really Makes Money’

The Disruption Of Education-From AVC: ‘Video Of The Week: Mark Suster Interview of Clayton Christensen’

Good luck making money blogging:

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

Whence journalism?:

From The Atlantic: “Information May Want To Be Free. But Not Journalism”

Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? 

Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

From The Economist: ‘No News Isn’t Good News’

Big Data And Filthy Lucre: Neil Irwin At WonkBlog-‘Here’s What The Bloomberg Data Scandal Reveals About How The Media Really Makes Money’

Full piece here.

It’s not just all puppy dogs and citizen-journalists out there:

‘Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, has achieved the thing that every company desperately seeks: An economic moat, a way to achieve persistently high profit margins that competitors cannot easily encroach. It is a textbook case of a company doing everything it can to seize and maintain competitive advantage.’

and:

‘In the heydey of print newspapers, reporters were part of a complex ecosystem that allowed publishers to maintain competitive advantage and near-monopoly status in order to make vast sums from selling advertising. In the current heydey of Bloomberg, reporters are part of a complex ecosystem to guard the data terminal business against competitors.’

Get ready for more data wars and information races, for wherever there’s a revenue stream, there are people maintaining it, tapping into it, and various others living off of it. No one likes a challenge to their near-monopoly.

Many digital publishers are paywalling-up.

News-gathering, investigative journalism and other functions of the paper used to thrive on the old revenue model. Now you can sell your cockatiel online for free, leaving some papers charging you to announce grandma’s death. The core technology has allowed very cheap access to share information, causing severe disruption.

Furthermore, that core technology is changing all the time, now going more mobile and interactive: Are blogs really being declared dead?

Bloomberg LP, however, doesn’t just focus on opinion blogging, political reporting, or cultural commentary, mind you. They go first where the money and information are. It’s a business model for the financial sector, one which has secured for itself a near monopoly on a certain kind of information and business reporting (where milliseconds matter, and millions can be gained or lost in that time).

As for near monopolies, this reminds me a bit of Microsoft, which got there first with a software package on nearly every machine, and has since maintained a competitive advantage quite well, and at times, ruthlessly.

Addition:  Laptop U?

Another Addition:  And of course I support open markets, they’re better than the government, crony-capitalist alternatives, but sometimes they can get a little monopolistic.

Related On This Site: Universities, take note.  Part of your core model can be made available to technology. Some of what happened to old media, brick and mortar business, is happening to you:

The Disruption Of Education-From AVC: ‘Video Of The Week: Mark Suster Interview of Clayton Christensen’

Good luck making money blogging:

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

Whence journalism?:

From The Atlantic: “Information May Want To Be Free. But Not Journalism”

Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’..

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? 

Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

From The Economist: ‘No News Isn’t Good News’

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

Full piece here.

Does the 80/20 rule or Pareto principle apply when it comes to online media, which would hold that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes, or some similar distribution?

Anderson was employed by Conde Nast, and as he saw it, the 20%, but he also argued that the mainstream media is now competing with the long tail, or the 80% of bloggers who work for free, and focus on the needs of their very specific audiences.

According to Anderson’s argument, with the advent of cheap storage and technology, the Pareto long-tail has been allowed to find equilibrium, and you can keep blogging into perpetuity and reach some audience, however small (on a blog that previously didn’t exist). This gives a lot of little guys out there hope, and started a marketing movement a while back:

————————–

According to Anderson, the internet is also fundamentally changing the way business is done, and there’s incentive for businesses to cater to the fully extended long-tail, instead of the old distribution channels which truncated that tail because of Pareto (record companies, movie studios, T.V. producers etc.):

‘Long Tail business can treat consumers as individuals, offering mass customization as an alternative to mass-market fare.’

Instead of 80/20 distributions, it’s more like 99% on this thinking (hopefully no relation to the 99%).   There are, or would appear to be, an almost endless row of online shelves, and the more thriving economic models are those that cater to the entire long-tail and curate all those shelves.

Here’s a review of Anderson’s book from David Jennings back in 2006 (this blog is only seven to nine years behind the times):

‘Nevertheless my concerns about Anderson’s loose use of concepts and terminology are consistent with Orlowski’s suggestion that the Long Tail has been sexed up a bit to maximise its buzzword profile. If the Long Tail plays on being a faddish term, then its shelf-life may be limited. As cited in Wikipedia, fashionable management terms (like Quality Circles, Total Quality Management and Business Process Re-engineering) tend to follow a life-cycle in the form of a bell curve. And a bell curve, unlike a power law, has quite a short tail’

A response to Anderson which confirms Pareto.

Andrew Orlowski’s critical piece here, suggesting such advice could be very bad for business.

**Richard Epstein, of the Chicago School, uses the Pareto principle in defense of private property.

———————————-

It’s still unclear what lies ahead for bloggers, writers, and journalists.

Here’s a comment previously made on this blog:

‘Opinion and news are now a commodity in this age, hard to extract money for that with the internet’

Most people aren’t willing to pay for opinion.  It was an activity funded by the old revenue models and distribution channels at newspapers and magazines, and those same models and channels funded long-form and investigative journalism as well, which arguably can be in the public good.  Those models aren’t working like they used to.  Most newspapers and networks are still losing money, and few have made it up yet.

Until the last fifteen years or so, it was usually only a few journalists, writers and cultural critics who worked their way into the public mind, making a kind of brand for themselves at major newspapers, magazines, and by freelancing and writing op-eds.  It’s generally a coveted spot.  E-publishing and free blog platforms are very cheaply available, now, and while there’s limited room in the public mind for opinionators and pundits, there’s arguably a more open field.

To be fair to good journalists, there are clearly professional aspects of what they do, and higher standards to be met in many cases.  Trust and loyalty are key components of any successful business, providing accurate information and/or public opinions included.

As for political magazines, they never really made much money anyways.  See Matt Welch’s piece on the New Republic:

‘Opinion magazines tend to be slim, light on advertisements, heavy on text, and dependent on the largesse of either millionaire owners (as with The New Republic) or nonprofit donors (like reason).’

Writers for political magazines also have to stay on message with that magazine’s core audience and mission statement, and still depend on other social structures for their online presence.  For non-professional writers and bloggers, it’s usually a labor of love, a hobby, as they like to follow their interests, attracting passers-by or maybe working to develop a loyal following.

Perhaps you could apply long tail to that master of the live feed and aggregation,  Matt Drudge, as well.

Perhaps, what we can say is that the old models aren’t working like they used to.

***As for some journalists, I like to keep Kent Brockman in mind.

Addition:  Welch also thinks that cities don’t make newspapers liberal, as many journalists got there first.

Related On This SiteFrom The Economist: ‘No News Isn’t Good News’Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’..

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers?

The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard

A Free Lunch?-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘How To Get Ahead On Facebook Without Really Trying’

Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

From The Economist: ‘No News Isn’t Good News’

Full post here.

Very few people are willing to pay for opinion, as everyone’s got an opinion.  The platform is now available to share opinion and information very cheaply.  Large outlets do have a valid complaint in the loss of fact-gathering, fact-checking, shoe-leather journalism, and accountability for politicians and the reporting of public affairs and current events.  It’s a vicious circle for them:  

‘Boosting circulation revenue will help stem losses from print advertising, since it has become clear that digital advertising will not be enough. For every $16 lost in print advertising last year, newspapers made only around $1 from digital ads. The bulk of the $37.3 billion spent on digital advertising in 2012 went to five firms: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft and AOL.’

Those five are the new curators of information at the moment, because they have partially designed how that information is stored and retrieved, and are competing intensely amongst each other.

With the new technology, a few aggregators have been quite successful, but even finding good links can take time.  For everyone else, do what you do best and link to the rest.  Readers don’t come easy.  Outlets like the New Yorker still offer long-form journalism, but it, too, costs money and time. 

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

Related On This Site: Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’..

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers?

The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard

A Free Lunch?-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘How To Get Ahead On Facebook Without Really Trying’

Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

A Free Lunch?-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘How To Get Ahead On Facebook Without Really Trying’

Full piece here.

‘So I dug up a head shot and within minutes, I’d created my own Facebook Page. Whereupon Facebook immediately asked me if I wouldn’t like to promote it. Not, of course, by genially informing a few close friends that I now had a public page; Facebook was inviting me to buy an ad.’

Like many people online, I’m using ‘free services’ to manage part of my life and exchange ideas and information.  You probably are, too.  McArdle highlights Facebook, which has created an important new bulletin board where many of us meet.   They’ve gathered a billion users in the last nine years by offering that ‘free’ space, and are now working on how to share and sell the information they’ve gathered, while still keeping the trust of their users.  Not many people likely entered into that user agreement with a value proposition in mind.

What most businesses want is customers, visibility, and feedback in the form of analytics.  They want eyeballs, and a place on the bulletin board.  They sink money (very serious money) into marketing, and they want the most bang for their buck and for that marketing to be as targeted as possible.   Facebook, like Google, can deliver targeted marketing for a good return on investment.  Some Facebook users simply join, as McArdle points out, to promote or represent themselves.

McArdle, as a professional blogger/journalist, is part of the rise of a group of people who are shaping society by having shaped this new medium first, riding the new medium into the old journalism.  Many bloggers/journalists are idea people.  They watch, report, and explain events, especially the business of politics.  There’s been a turf war between the old and new journalists, as well as a fight over ethics, facts and the business of journalism.  Frankly, I respect journalists who follow Sayre’s Law, even when working on stories of potential importance.

The public remains skeptical.  Disgusted, even.

Newspapers and print outlets are bleeding money as they used to manage the old bulletin boards that few people visit anymore.  The profit margin was slim in most cases, but they got along selling ad space, subscriptions, and obituaries enough to fund investigative journalism and long-form journalism.   Unsurprisingly, many newspapers haven’t adapted and have simply died, or are struggling to maintain their relevance.

This helps to explain why network news is rushing to cover the latest cat video or celebrity gossip.  Ideological bias may not entirely account for why they appear more craven in the face of politicians.  They have to follow the latest trend and chase viewers.  They’ve been undercut as well.

I’m sympathetic to journalists and newspapermen in this way:  The politician downtown who’s been using his campaign fund to fly a major donor for vacations will deny, deny, deny, until some pitbull of a journalist pins him to the bulletin board for everyone to see, using shoe-leather journalism and all the facts he can muster.   This takes time and money, some courage and some concept of the public good, or at least a determination to get at the truth.  This can be in the public interest.

What Facebook does is certainly in many people’s private interest:   Catching up with a friend, or displaying those new baby pictures.  Most of us have carved out a corner of the internet for ourselves, with maybe some idea in mind that it’s a bit like the public square.  This virtual bulletin board in the public square is also in the interest of many businesses and professionals as well.  Of course, it’s also attracted the attention of many politicians (profit is to business what tax revenue is to government).  They want your money and support, too.

What about the public interest?  Who decides what’s in the public interest?

Let me know what you think.

Addition:  Wired piece on that Facebook study of your likes, which are public.

Another Addition: From Yakezie.com.  How bloggers and journalists can help each other.  Recommended.

***’If you‘ve been playing poker for half an hour and you still don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.

Who reads the newspapers?

****Wordpress (which I recommend) offers this blogger free services to voice my opinion and share my ideas.  They’ve followed the same model:  Design the software, attract users with a free platform, decide how and how much to monetize later.  I can keep the WordPress platform, and host on my own server should I want to.  It’s a value proposition.  This kind of free clearly works for many people.

Lest you think I’m making the typical Left-Of-Center argument for a vaunted professional class curating the public good (why it’s them!), see here: Hate Is A Strong Word-Some Links On The BBC, The CBC, & NPRRepost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon